Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Business

Care Coalition steps in to support Special Ops vets

TAMPA

Army Ranger Spc. Sean Pesce was shot 13 times last October in Afghanistan. He is 20, thin with brown hair and a shy smile, and paralyzed from the waist down. He has improved so much that he was being released from the James A. Haley VA Medical Center this past week and transferred to Boston, which is closer to his home.

"I'm excited," he said.

Throughout his ordeal, Pesce has had advocates navigating the military and medical system for him, with its dizzying amounts of complex paperwork, making sure he and his family got what they needed. The Care Coalition, which was ranked 25th out of 50 of the best small workplaces in the Tampa Bay area, is an agency within U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base that helps the injured and sick men and women of Special Operations. These are military's elite forces, such as Green Berets, Army Rangers and Navy SEALs. It doesn't matter whether the person was wounded in battle, like Pesce, or a 70-year-old veteran dealing with cancer. The agency helps those in combat forces and workers in support positions.

"We wanted to track our guys so they always have someone to turn to," said Sgt. Major Kelly Ammerman, the senior enlisted adviser for the Care Coalition and a Green Beret who has been in the military for 23 years.

"We want to get them to the best quality of life that they can have," he said.

The Care Coalition was founded in 2005 and has about 80 employees, half at MacDill and the rest stationed around the world. The employees are a mix of active and retired military, plus civilians with special skill sets, registered nurses and social workers. Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Kelly, an Army Ranger who has been in the military since 1994, has worked with the agency for a year. He spent his career as a medic treating catastrophic wounds on the battlefield. Now he has that same intensity in making sure his soldiers, including Pesce, get all they need.

Kelly has worked with Pesce's family for months. For the move to Boston, Kelly found him an apartment, arranged flights, made sure someone was there to meet him and that Pesce still gets his paychecks and his medical treatments. He got Pesce extra money through a charity. Another charity flew Pesce's girlfriend home.

"How will I be getting to the airport?" Pesce's girlfriend, Zuly Vazquez, asked in the hospital room Wednesday, the day before her flight. She needed to leave for the airport by 6:30 a.m.

"I'll just come up here with the van and get you," Kelly said.

Gail Pesce hasn't left her son's side since he was flown back to the States shortly after he was injured Oct. 12. She had to leave her husband and two sons at their home in Connecticut.

She's thankful for Kelly and the Care Coalition because they navigate the system for her and take care of so many things so she can spend her time being a mom.

"I get to focus on him and helping him get better," she said. "It would have been horrible if we didn't have them."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3405.

Comments
Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Ex-Facebook VP: Social media destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

Washington PostA former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his "tremendous guilt" over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded "the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other."Chamath Paliha...
Updated: 16 minutes ago
Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

Illegal card skimmer discoveries in Tampa Bay double in 2017

State investigators have discovered more than double the number of credit card skimmers in the Tampa Bay area in 2017 than in 2016 — with still a few weeks left in the year. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found 54 skimmer...
Updated: 1 hour ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Times Staff WriterThe percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments rose slightly in September, probably due to Hurricane Irma. According to CoreLogic, 7 percent of bay area mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days c...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Unusual paddle design earns worldwide market

Paddling on the heels of the last supermoon of 2017, Phil Hughes navigated an uncommonly low tide off Dunedin through St. Joseph Sound on an effortless but lengthy glide.This is not easy water, nor an easy paddle, and could be especially daunting for...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Nicko's Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko's Fine Foods, classic diner and Seminole Heights icon, closes after six decades

Nicko’s Fine Foods, known as the place Elvis Presley ate following a 1956 concert and Tampa’s last classic prefabricated diner, has shut down after more than 60 years in business. Owners Karen and Nicholas Liakos could not be reached for...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

Punit Shah’s Liberty Group building new Channel District hotel with Jameis Winston as limited investor

TAMPA — Punit Shah’s Liberty Group announced plans Tuesday to start construction in January on a Channel District project that will include a Hampton Inn and Home2 Suites, both by Hilton, plus a Starbucks Coffee.Financing for the $40 million project ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Creating PDQ from scratch: CEO of growing brand came from Bucs’ front office

Shortly after leaving his job as chief financial officer of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to strike out on his own as an entrepreneur, Nick Reader wondered if he’d made the right move. "I probably had one of the coolest jobs in Tampa," said Reader, 42. Si...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

Driven by demand, Planned Parenthood opens second clinic in Tampa

The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are heavily tinted and the inside is hidden behind rows of curtains. Security cameras monitor every corner, and only patients with an appointment and valid identification can pass through the intentionally cramped e...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Hotly anticipated Ichicoro Ane is now open in St. Petersburg

Noel Cruz seemed remarkably chill. As did his partner Kerem Koca. All around them in the Station House building in St. Petersburg, workers pounded the last nails, bartenders unpacked boxes of glassware and jewel-toned bottles of Amari, and the kitche...
Updated: 9 hours ago